Valli Rally 2019: Meet Martin
This year’s Valli Rally, a seven miles charity walk in Huddersfield, is raising funds for the Kirklees Visual Impairment Network (KVIN).
It takes place on Saturday October 5 and we wanted to take the chance to introduce you to some of the people that will be helped through this year’s event. Let us introduce you to Martin.
Name: Martin Eatherley Age: 55 Lives: Liversedge.
Hi Martin. Can you tell us about the condition that affects your sight?
I have a condition called choroideremia. It’s a degenerative eye condition mainly affecting males, and it usually starts off with night blindness. When I was a child, I used to bump into things at night, and my optician referred me to Moorfields Eye Hospital and then Great Ormond Street for tests, where I was eventually diagnosed.
My peripheral vision deteriorated first, and I was registered partially sighted in 1995. My central vision then gradually disappeared an I was registered blind in 2003. Now, I can see light through windows when it’s dark, but I’m not able to read or watch television without assistive technology.
How does being blind impact on your daily life?
It’s difficult to do the everyday things sighted people take for granted without using assistive technology. I now use audio descriptions for TV and films and on my smartphone to help me get around. I also use a white stick when I’m out and about.
When did you first discover Kirklees Visual Impairment Network (KVIN)?
It was around nine years ago. As my sight got worse, I wanted assistance as I started to struggle to use a phone and my computer. I heard about KVIN through the talking newspaper which is produced by Kirklees Council and delivered to the homes of people registered blind. It comes on a memory stick and contains local news, articles about sight loss, and What’s On? Information for our area.
How often do you attend KVIN?
When my sight first started to deteriorate, I used to attend KVIN weekly in Huddersfield. I found the peer support extremely helpful as losing your sight also places immense strain on your mental health, so it was fantastic to spend time with people who understood my situation.
I’m now a volunteer for KVIN and I help two or three times a week across Huddersfield, Batley and Dewsbury.
Give us an example of a useful or helpful skill you’ve learned at KVIN that you have been able to use at home?
KVIN has been great in helping me understand what technology is available to use, whether it’s making the most of Amazon Alexa or talking to other users about the latest free assistive apps for my phone.
When I bought my iPhone, KVIN helped me understand how to get the best from it, and we’ve even recently found out about a brilliant free app that translates pictures into text.